2362. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 11 January 1814

2362. Robert Southey to John Rickman, 11 January 1814 ⁠* 

Keswick. Jany. 11. 1814.

My dear R.

The inclosed epistle to George 1st will bear the delay of its circuitous route. It carries a refusal of subscribing to the Literary Fund, [1]  unless cause be shewn for reversing the opinion which I entertain of that said Funds uselessness & despicability.

Your M Chronicle [2]  went far toward putting me in better humour with the Carmen Castratum. [3]  I am disposed to acquit Hazlitt, not because he owes me a good turn for enabling him to escape from Cumberland, [4]  but because if he wished to do me an ill one, I should expect that the ill will would be accompanied with more ability. The criticism is bad, – the verses Carmen is simply good-for-nothing. – The stone which was rejected I have made the cornerstone of an ode interpretive invective, & devoratory, [5]  which is gone to the Courier to be inserted (anonymously) – or not, at Stuarts discretion. – I have heard on such authority as left no doubt in my mind of its truth, that Pichergru expired under the torture; & I believe that Wright was tortured & then murdered that he might tell no tales; the official account of their death was in the first case physically impossible, & in the second absurd. Had I been son or brother of Wright, Palm or Hofer this earth should not have held me & the murderer. [6] 

God bless you



* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqre
Endorsement: RS/ 11 Janry 1814
MS: Huntington Library, RS 219. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 92–93. BACK

[1] A benevolent fund, set up in 1790, to help published British writers who were in financial difficulties. BACK

[2] Hazlitt’s review of ‘Carmen Triumphale’ had appeared in the Morning Chronicle, 8 January 1814. BACK

[3] The Laureate ode Carmen Triumphale, published, after much revision, in a quarto of 30 pages on 1 January 1814. BACK

[4] i.e. after the controversial spanking episode of 1803, when Southey and others had aided Hazlitt’s escape from the Lake District. BACK

[5] ‘Ode Written During the Negotiations with Bonaparte’, published in the Courier, 3 February 1814. It made use of the five controversial stanzas deleted from the published text of Carmen Triumphale. BACK

[6] The ninth stanza of ‘Ode Written During the Negotiations with Bonaparte’ accused the Bonapartist regime of murdering: Jean-Charles Pichegru (1761–1804), who was found strangled in his prison cell after returning to France to lead a royalist uprising; the British naval officer John Wesley Wright (1769–1805; DNB), captured on the French coast in 1804 and suspected of landing Pichegru and other opponents of the regime, he was found with his throat cut in prison the following year, a reported suicide; the German bookseller Johann Philipp Palm (1768–1806), executed without trial for publishing an attack on Bonaparte; and the Tyrolean patriot Andreas Hofer (1767–1810), executed for his leadership of a failed rebellion against France’s ally, Bavaria. BACK

People mentioned

Dyer, George (1755–1841) (mentioned 1 time)
Hazlitt, William (1778–1830) (mentioned 1 time)
Stuart, Daniel (1766–1846) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)